Christie budget again diverts clean energy funds to other N.J. programs

    Environmental advocates are disappointed that Gov. Chris Christie’s budget plan takes $152 million from New Jersey’s clean energy programs for other uses.

    It’s the fourth year in a row the fund would be raided to balance the budget, environmentalists say, bringing the total amount diverted to nearly $700 million.

    There won’t be much money left to give residents incentives to buy more energy-efficient appliances and weatherize their homes, says Sen. Bob Smith, chairman of the state Senate Environment and Energy Committee.

    “The whole point of this was to reduce our energy footprint but also to stimulate the economy,” said Smith, D-Middlesex. “I mean, when work is being done on a home to make it more energy efficient, you’re putting people to work. When you’re selling or buying appliances, that’s stimulating that sector of the economy.”

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    The interim director of Environment New Jersey says every dollar invested in energy efficiency programs ends up saving consumers as much as $4.

    “They’re not only hurting clean energy businesses. They’re also not allowing New Jersey residents to get savings by doing the right thing by buying energy efficient appliances and by weatherizing their homes,” said Doug O’Malley Thursday.

    He says the reduction in funding is disappointing for residents who could have benefited from it as they replace damaged appliances and rebuild from Hurricane Sandy.

    Smith says the only way to ensure the money is not taken for other uses is to pass a constitutional amendment dedicating it to clean energy.

    Smith acknowledges that’s not going to happen because Republicans in the Legislature aren’t likely to support it.

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